Notes on origin of the CHIKIMS

Published on February 2, 2008

By Donn Morgan Kipgen


February 2, 2008: Every nation-state has its own distinctive culture and tradition with common lingua-franca along with trademark identity. For a much more civilised nation, they have a written and recorded history engraved with their own original scripts.


Though the ancient Meitei mayek scriptures were literally destroyed after the advent of Hinduism resulted in the usage of Bengali script as the Manipuri royal court’s medium of redcording and written communication system, the history of Manipur has been well-documented. It is the same case with that of the Chinese history.


When the first known emperor of China, the great socio-military unfifier, Chin-Shi Huangti, came to power, he promptly ordered the massive and methodical burnings of all existing scriptures. This was done to subdue hostile intellectuals and scholars of the conquered princely states of present day China. Most probably, the factual history of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo (CHIKIMS) literally went up in smoke with that burning of books.


As the first Chinese emperor, the name 'CHINA' was derived from the founder of Chin Dynasty, ie., Chin-Shi-Huangti, the builder of the great wall of China. Herein lies an arguable theory of CHIKIMS origin. Many learned scholars by-passed some glaring facts for hunderds of years when it comes to origin of the Kukis. As the great Sherlock Holmes would have it: “Elementary my dear (Dr.) Watson, its elementaryl; you see but did not observe”. Nothing can be farther from the truth.


The uniqueness and baffling distinctive custom, culture and tradition of the CHIKIMS, especially the Kukis, are the fact that they had some very common socio-religious cultures of ancient civilisations – thousands of miles away in western and eastern hemispheres. Geographically speaking, there is no connection, yet culturally it does have some astonishing links! There is room for speculative and theoreocal observations based on circumstantial evidences.


Because of the speed of socio-religious adaptation process of the CHIKIMS, noted scholars like William Shaw (Notes on Thadou-Kukis), Lt. Steward 22nd (Chesire) Regt, author of “Slight notice on Thadou-Kuki Grammar” and Dr. J. Hutton, among others, were of the firm opinion that the CHIKIMS could have been descendants of a more civilised nation-states. About 70 years ago, when the first American christian missionary team came to Lungthulien and Senvon areas of Churachandpur district (in  India), they were honourably treated like good neighbours paying a routine visit.


About 80% of the CHIKIMS embraced Christianity within a 20 year period, whereas Dr. William Pettigrew and his missionaries reportedly converted less than 50% Nagas within the same time period. However, this does not meant that the CHIKIMS were more civilised culturally than their Naga brethrens. Actually, there was a local dialect called “Kuki-Naga Language” (Linguistic Survey of India-III, p.ii).


According to Dr. Hutton, “The Ao tribe, in the north of the Naga Hills (in India), shows entirely unexpected traces of Kuki influences, and the Sema tribe, in whom the dominant element is derived from a migration from the south-west in the Manipur state, has its whole social and political system clearly modelled on a Kuki pattern”. Well that much close were the Kukis and the original Nagas in the past just to think about it.

The CHIKIMS Kut is quite similar to the Israeli’s Yom Kippur Kut. And the CHIKIMS have as many Kuts as the Isarelites. It should be noted that 10 out of 12 Israelis tribes were lost, most of them taken captives as slaves or vassals by the then powerful Assyrians. Some were known to have moved east towards
China, Tibet, Mongolia and former Indo-China colonies. Few tribes of Mongolia who have “Caucasian blood” are genetically close to Israelites. Many CHIKIMS embraced Judaism because of the similarities in custom, culture and socio-religious grounds and are now citizens of Israel.


In the pre-Christian days, whenever there was an earthquake, the Kukis and other CHIKIMS tribesmen would wailed, “We, the sons of MANMASIE (Mannaseh?) are still existing here. One of the 10 lost tribes of the Israelities happened to be the MANNASEH clan. Alongwith the Kuts and rituals of most unique manner, there are always rooms for theoretical arguments. When and where exactly did the CHIKIMS ancestors came from?


The Thadou-Kukis say they originated from “KHUL”(cave dwelling) and had come out from the bowel (tunnel?) of the earth. The Hmars and Mizos say they came from “SHIN/CHINLUNG”. So, what could be “Chin-Lung”? Well, in Mizo and Hmar dialects, “Lung” means rock or stone and “Chin” is a name of an ancestral.


Landmark. China derives its name from its emperor being Chin-Shi-Huangti of the great wall fame. So, CHINLUNG could be safely interpreted literally as “China/ Chinese-Rock/ Stone” or better still the rock of China. It is worth mentioning that the slave-labourers of the great wall of China were forced to live in cave dwellings (KHUL?) all those decades and their dead bodies entombed within the wall itself.


The overall construction of the great wall spanned across hundreds of years under 2 or more kings. Many of the forced-labour tribes (given no access to Chinese scripts) escaped by digging holes underneath the wall as tunnel-route (bowel of the earth?). Talk about the “Bowel of the Earth” origin, in ancient and medieval feudalistic China, labour class tribesmen and slaves lived in underground dwelling and caves. Their roofs were their doors themselves, though some lived in small thatched huts.


They worked all round the year for their feudal chief and gave tributes accordingly as required. The CHIKIMS still follow this chieftianship local administration and were as good in making gunpowder as the Chinese for their muskets and cannons. There were and are more similiarities than one coild imagine, in comparison with other civilised nations.


During the disastrous Kuki Rebellion (1917-19) punitive campaigns, the Bristish army commanders were stunned by the advanced usage of gunpowder and the overwhelming numbers of home-made muskets used by the Kuki militiamen (around 3000 rifles). The art of CHIKIMS musketry then was far sophisticated and well-groved than any other ethnic group in Indo-Burman territories.


The Kuki warriors were like the Israelis combat reservists, the Spartans, Red Indians and as highly adventurous as the rampaging Mongols. This was the reason why the Kuki militiamen were used to good effect by the Manipuri kings as their vanguards of punitive military campaigns in hilly areas.


As one British military scholar justifiably observed it, the resilient Kukis were a promisingly good allies if well treated, but a very dangerous enemy to have around. All these observations just about sum up who the CHIKIMS really are and what they really were.

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